The new EU regulation is feared to have a negative impact to the world coffee supply

The new EU regulation is feared to have a negative impact to the world coffee supply

July 21 - 2022

Coffee Geography Magazine

The new regulations drafted in the European Union (EU) for importation of agricultural products entail serious risks of affecting the coffee supply chain, experts warned in a new virtual session of the 3rd World Coffee Producers Forum (WCPF). 

The session was chaired by Juan Esteban Orduz, representative of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) in North America, and the main speaker was Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, one of the 100 most influential leaders in the world. The budding regulations in the EU are seen as unrealistic, among other reasons due to the limitations that producer families face, such as poor digital access in coffee regions to implement the traceability of an agricultural product from the farm. 

This requires a constructive dialogue between regulators, the world’s producers and the value chain in general to find joint solutions, including a gradual implementation of the new requirements.

“There will be a supply chain problem for Europe if this legislation is passed as it is currently drafted,” warned Michael von Luehrte, secretary general of the Swiss Coffee Traders Association (SCTA). 

“There is a disconnection between the requirements and the realities,” said the secretary general of the European Coffee Federation, Eileen Gordon, who invited European legislators to better understand the realities of the producing countries, and these, to approach the legislators in Brussels.

 “Do the legislators in consumer countries know that probably 50, 60 or 70% of the coffee regions lack internet, that they cannot connect?” asked Roberto Vélez, the FNC CEO when referring to traceability challenges. 

These issues were addressed in the panel “Are increased environmental/import regulations in consuming countries effective and realistic or will they just worsen the situation by driving farmers out of coffee production?”

Another aspect that was emphasized is the investments that will be necessary to meet these new requirements, which would also make incentives necessary for producer families. 

5 investment areas that are key for National Plans 

Professor Sachs presented the five areas on which the National Coffee Grower Sustainability Plans should be based and on which he is currently working under the coordination of the WCPF, with the United Nations, the Columbia University and the University of Oxford, to achieve producers’ prosperity.

 Schooling, health care, electrification (from clean sources), sustainable land use, infrastructure, and digital access are the five areas, complementary to a decent income, in which investment must be made through inter-institutional work, with active participation of the public and private sectors.

“We need prosperity in the form of decent incomes, of course, but more broadly of access to all of the social services that make life decent, that really add up to prosperity,” Sachs said. Jamie Coats, president of the Wise Responders group at the University of Oxford, will work on the diagnosis and progress of multidimensional indicators to fight poverty in coffee grower communities, with initial pilots in regions of Colombia, Costa Rica, Rwanda and India for comprehensively improving producer families’ well-being.

 Another aspect that several speakers agreed on is the growing impact of global warming and climate change on coffee production in different countries. Amir Hamza, chairman of the African Fine Coffees Association (AFCA); Enselme Ghouton, president of the Agence de Cafés d’Afrique et de Madagascar (ACRAM); Silas Brasileiro, president of the National Coffee Council of Brazil; Anil Bhandari, chairman of India Coffee Trust; René León, executive secretary of Promecafé, from Central America, and Vanusia Nogueira, executive director of the International Coffee Organization (ICO), were other participants in the meeting.

This year the WCPF has focused on how to achieve producers’ prosperity through National Coffee Grower Sustainability Plans based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The next meeting will be held in Kigali, Rwanda, in person on February 13-14, 2023. One of the premises of the WCPF organizers is shared responsibility of the entire coffee value chain to achieve sustainability and prosperity of producers. 

The WCPF was born in 2017 to provide producers and key players in the global coffee industry with a unique meeting space to discuss critical issues of common interest, including sustainability, climate, environment and livelihoods.